800 Indiana St (Planning, Design or Conception) – San Francisco – 94107
Currently, the project site is occupied by a two‐story, steel‐frame industrial warehouse that is owned by
the San Francisco Opera. Adjacent to the project site is the I‐280 Freeway to the west, the 20th Street
overpass/bridge to the north, the Espirit Development (approximately 142‐unit multi‐family
development) at 900 Minnesota Street to the east, and a two‐story, steel‐frame warehouse to the south.
The project site is located within the Central Waterfront Plan Area.
The proposal would demolish the existing two‐story warehouse and construct a new five‐story multi‐
family development with a below‐ground parking garage. The new development would include 350
dwelling units (approximately 350,000 sf), 263 parking spaces (approximately 105,200 sf), 350 bicycle
parking spaces, and 4,500 sf dedicated to amenities (gym, community room, leasing center and project
offices). The new development would be subdivided into six large masses (buildings) that would be
raised above street grade and separated by large courtyards. A freeway sound wall along the northern
edge of the project site would join the six buildings. Each of the six buildings would feature independent
circulation systems (elevators, stairs and street fronting residential lobbies) and would be oriented
towards Indiana Street. Each dwelling unit in these six buildings would have a private balcony, while common open space provided in either the common courtyards or common roof decks above the fifth level on the northernmost
and southernmost street facing buildings. The parking garage would feature two entrance/exit points: one on Indiana Street and another on 20th Street.
The cash-strapped San Francisco Opera is in contract to sell its sprawling set-construction warehouse in the Dogpatch neighborhood to apartment giant Archstone for approximately $26 million.
Archstone has filed a preliminary application to build 350 units on the property at 800 Indiana St. Archstone is working on the entitlements with Build Inc., the group that built the Homes on Esprit Park a block north. The sale is not scheduled to close until the development receives approvals from the city, which will likely take at least 18 months. The price, roughly $75,000 per buildable unit, is in line with other recent land deals in well-located San Francisco neighborhoods.
With the opera property, Archstone now has an 1,800-unit pipeline in the city, representing well over $700 million in development costs.
Archstone is proposing to replace the single-story metal-sided warehouse along Interstate 280 with a two-building, 459,700-square-foot complex. The 58-foot-tall wood frame-over-concrete podium development would cost an estimated $75 million, according to planning department documents.
The proposed sale comes as the opera company has been struggling financially. The company ended fiscal 2010 with a $1.5 million deficit on a budget of $65 million, a shortfall that would have been worse had 9,000 donors had not contributed $36.3 million to the annual fund. Operating revenue declined from $34 million in fiscal 2009 to $27 million in fiscal 2010, according to an audit last year by Burr Pilger Mayer.
San Francisco Opera Association CFO Michael Simpson said the organization no longer needs the warehouse because it is increasingly relying on outside set-building companies to construct the opera’s elaborate sets.
“We are winding down the scene shop, set-building part of our business. We can’t compete with other companies who do this for a living,” said Simpson. “We are finding it more economical to have them built by union shops elsewhere. We are trying to turn the opera company around financially, and in 2012 building our own sets from scratch is not economically the best thing.”
Amir Massih, Archstone’s vice president for development, called the property “a great site in a fantastic neighborhood.” Build Inc. is “deeply immersed in the Dogpatch neighborhood through their Esprit Park project and involvement with (nearby Piccino Restaurant) and are very well positioned to help Archstone through the community outreach and entitlement process,” he said.
Archstone already has a mind-boggling array of San Francisco developments in its pipeline. The company owns all or part of two fully entitled projects. One is the 384-unit 340-350 Fremont St., which it owns with Jackson Pacific. The other is the 230-unit Fox Plaza at 1390 Market St., where a second tower is approved.
Archstone also has two more major developments in the approval process: 416 units at 350 8th St. and the 470-unit Daggett Place.
“We’re very excited to grow our development pipeline in San Francisco and are working diligently to start construction on our already-approved projects as quickly as practical,” said Massih.
The opera’s building at 800 Indiana is a long, skinny parcel that stretches the length of two blocks between 20th and 22nd streets. Plans call for the property to be sliced in half, creating an “on-grade east-west plaza” where 21st Street would be if it didn’t dead-end 14 blocks to the west at San Francisco General Hospital. The frontage of the complex would be further broken up by a series of courtyards. The five bottle-shaped courtyards are generally 50 feet wide, narrowing to 25 feet at the entrance.
“This makes a more interesting street wall, provides each interior apartment with a visual connection to Indiana Street and ensures that no apartment is oriented toward the freeway,” according to a preliminary application filed by project architect Jon Worden Architects.
Archstone is asking for parking for 263 cars (0.75 per unit) and 350 bikes. On the street, the buildings will have varying floor plans, massing, details, materials and color, according to Worden. Each apartment will have a private balcony, with common open spaces in the community plaza.
“Each of the courtyards and their entrances will be equally distinct and diverse so that residents and neighbors can look into a series of beautiful gardens,” Worden said.
Developers have been chasing the opera property for years, and the opera came close to marketing it before the real estate crash. AvalonBay had the property under contract last summer, but the deal fell through.
“Archstone came to the table with a fair price and the development experience. Build came with an understanding of the Dogpatch and the Potrero Hill neighborhoods, of what would work and what wouldn’t work,” said Simpson.
The opera will still need a shop to touch up and alter the sets that have been built elsewhere, probably 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, Simpson said.
Opera sets will likely be outsourced to companies including Adirondack Studios in upstate New York, Monterey-based Island Creative and RA Reid in Portland, Ore. In recent years, opera companies in Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C., and Utah have started outsourcing their scene-building operations.
J.K. Dineen covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.